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The Unbearable Lightness of Being, a novel by Kundera was filmed for 1988.
Tomas is presented as a doctor, a brain surgeon. Mostly though we only see him seducing women. “Take off your clothes,” Tomas instructs a nurse, an artist, a waitress … the woman whose window he’s washing once the Commies have demoted him from the surgery …
Daniel Day-Lewis stars: with Lena Olin and Juliette Binoche (my favorite role for her (and that’s saying something!) (Actually it’s my favorite role for the incredible Lena Olin too!)
We hear how good a doctor he is only from communist bureaucrats who want him to retract a satire he wrote contrasting Communist commissars with King Oedipus: Oedipus, when he discovered what evil he’d done, blinded himself rather than behold the light of another sinful day. Tomas wondered how come the Commiees hadn’t blinded themselves: didn’t they see the evil they did?
I’ve made the same joke: over decades. I first made it in the late 1960s, during Watergate, in a letter to Nixon: my “Oedipus.” I first told of such jokes online in early 1998, years before I knew Kundera’s utilization. The fed censored my domains and therefore destroyed the online presence of my example (I’ll put it back up). I’ve read several Kundera novels, though I dont’ think I read that one. Anyway, I didn’t see The Unbearable Lightness of Being till the 2000s, and didn’t see the whole of it till last night: I’ve spent two years now catching my beloved Jan up on this and that DVD.
I’ll show my Oedipus modules: but first I draw another parallel between Tomas (under the Commies) and pk (under this and that string of equivalents: Nazis, fascists, bureacrats … American commissars.
The Commies of Prague don’t like Tomas as a satirist. They prepare a retraction for him. He doesn’t sign it. They prepare a milder retraction for him (they want brain surgeons): he doesn’t sign that one either. He rumbples the paper and throws in in the commisar’s hat. The Commies soon have Tomas washing windows around Prague instead of entertaining the nurses in the staff lounge.
Horrible, think Americans, who, compelled to go to government run schools, repeat the lies that they’re free, educated, just …
Realize: the differences, whether many or few, are largely superficial. I was a college Shakespeare teacher. I criticized America’s role in Vietnam. I criticized American foreign policy in other areas. The American commissars invaded the American colleges and universiites in the 1960s and pressured the administrations, supposedly free in some cases, to ditch teachers who deviated from the patriotic line. Of twenty-one of us in the English department in 1969, eleven of us were fired! I don’t know what the other ten did. They probably got jobs at other colleges, moved their families, knew to stay shut up in future; or, they went into realestate, sponging on their family for the transition.
In 1970 I offered an internet: hoping to replace the school system: and the colleges and universities along with it. We need information, a market place; not educational supervision by commissars. In Prague in Commies made brain surgeon Tomas wash windows. In the US the American equivalents didn’t compel me to earn any kind of a living at all. I could clerk in a supermarket if I wanted to eat while they stole my internet from me, perverting it into this egregious one which they censor, manage … lie about. I believe, but can’t prove, they “they” continued to sabotage me, making sure I stayed blackballed: but the whole kleptocracy cooperates in such endeavors; show that you’re not following their leadership and the supermarket administration will make sure you’re fired just as the university administration made sure I was fired, make sure I got no share of resources … till they could steal my ideas. Colt made guns for every man; but the Hitler will monopolize the Colts for the Reich: for the Reich, not against the Reich.
I improvised these points verbally to Jan this morning. Jan, a faculty wife, a ex-grade school teacher, a mother of three, told me how she won the history prize in school: why? because she didn’t know much history? (We were talking abou the opium wars at the time.) Anyway, she certainly was resonating with what I was saying: not that she’ll pass my blasphemies on to her friends, heaven forbid.) She’s told me how as a faculty wife she remembers the persecutions of the 1960s, the government pressure, the social pressure, the economic pressure: conform, or starve.
2011 12 24 Happy Christmas Eve!
I loved the movie’s presentation of the string of “commissars” who try to bully Tomas. No matter what you say to Bureaucrat1 the kleptocracy can come up with a Bureaucrat2 and a Bureaucrat3 who know nothing about it. Tomas’s Prague, Czechoslovakia’s socialists invaded and conquered by the Soviet’s Communists, is little different from Tiberius Caesar’s Rome with puppets like Pontius Pilate managing Jerusalem for the foreign rulers. (If you don’t see that the US, giving Indian land to white settlers, pretending to be democratic, pretending to be Christian, is little different then you’re not likely to follow a single one of my jokes.) The last such bureaucrat we meet seems very reasonable: but dig it: he paraphrases Tomas’ article. Tomas had pointed out that there was a kind of dignity to Oedipus in the act of blinding himself: he saw that he was wrong, naive, filled with hubris: he punished himself, he didn’t wait for the gods who’d spiritually blinded him to physically blind him. Tomas points out, quite rightly that the Commies hadn’t blinded themselves. (I imagined Nixon blinding himself after seeing that he was responsible for Watergate.) But Tomas’ ultimate bureaucrat shown does not say that; he says that Tomas had suggested that people should be deprived of their sight! That’s the opposite of what Tomas had joked!
One specific aspect of the misreading is simply delicious in its irony: BureaucratN fails to note the difference between voluntary self-blinding and governmentally coerced blinding of citizens. Tomas didn’t recommend that the Kremlin impose blindness on its members. He didn’t say that Congress should round up all Democrats and castrate them. He saw a justice in Oedipus blinding himself! When I offered an internet in 1970 I didn’t forbid people to go to school in the old fashioned way; I recommending the public support unregulated information and an educational marketplace of free choice. But commissars can envision nothing but coercion, imposition: Caesar in charge. It’s “King Herod” who wants to murder all male babies. Government has totally different style from individuals exercising freedom.
There is creative reading as well as creative writing.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
It’s exactly like the satire I wrote that got me arrested, convicted, censored by the American’s federal bureaucrats 1, 2, 3 … The FBI misrecorded what I’d written. (What I’d written filled several hundred million bytes, occupied a large number of my 4,000 or so published text files … Then the fed had my host destroy all my data. The only remaining version of what I wrote was the FBI’s misrepresentation. My public defender showed no interest in registering the differences between my version and theirs, did nothing to communicate to the court that it’s facts were false, that its interpretation was irrelevant if it was based on false data …
And there’s also destructive writing
and destructive reading!
I’d said to my university, NYU, the university that defrauded me from my professional training by wasting my thought, writing, scholarship, money … for a decade before interupting my presentation of my thesis, and cooperating with the fed blackballing of me as a teacher that if I went stone broke in my helpless old age before they’d finally acknowledgted any of my testimony against them, that I, who was too broke to travel ten miles to Avon Park, the next town north, would travel over a thousand miles north to NYU and paint the campus red with their false bureaucrat blood. The prose bristled with signs: this is not literal, this is symbolic, this is satire … irony with a capital IRON. But no: the commissars said that I threatened NYU! Well, literally, yes; but I’ve been saying for a half a century, NYU never understanding one word! that all is symbolic, little to nothing is literal!
In kleptocracy the priests who hate God, interrupt him, crucify him, misrecord his words, misrepresent his deeds, are in charge of supervising God (through his son, his messengers, his angels …) Athens took its one great teacher, Socrates, and executed him. Rome murdered Jesus.
If there was no Jesus, was there also no Socrates?
If there was no Socrates or Jesus, was there therefore also no Abelard? no Galileo?
Did not the Pope try to murder Luther?
Don’t the Christians falsify what Bible we have (with no knowledge of how false their falsified sources were back when, or the generations before that?
You want to know what Jesus “really” said? Look at Ivan Illich’s design for learning networks. Imagine the internet I offered in 1970 actually working? There’s Jesus’ message manifest.
And if it isn’t, wait, and watch me be damned at Judgment.
Don’t interrupt me, sabotage me, not publish me, render me broke, helpless, then censor me … and then say that it proves that you‘re saved.
That’s only so so long as the truth is blocked from our doomed society.
All nonsense? because there is no god, except as false Christians believe? No, no: the truth will catch up with us.
Never mind God.